UN chief Ban Ki-moon in Egypt to push for Gaza ceasefire

UN chief Ban Ki-moon in Egypt to push for Gaza ceasefire
Cairo:  UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo Monday on the first leg of a visit to support Egyptian-mediated efforts for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, an AFP correspondent at the airport said.

Ban is scheduled to meet Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr later in the evening and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Tuesday.

The secretary general will then travel to Jerusalem later on Tuesday or on Wednesday, according to UN diplomats. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Ban would also go to the Palestinian territories.

Ban has already spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge restraint, while also strongly condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza that Israel blames for its air strikes and its military build-up around the besieged Palestinian territory.

"Ban went to the region during the last Israeli offensive against Gaza in 2009 and worked hard to end that conflict. He is looking to produce a truce and ceasefire this time as well," said one senior UN diplomat before the secretary general's visit.

Since the latest Israeli air strikes started on Wednesday, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed. Three Israelis have been killed and more than 50 injured by rocket fire from Gaza.

Egypt is leading efforts to mediate the truce, chairing marathon indirect negotiations in Cairo between Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and an Israeli envoy.

Story First Published: November 19, 2012 23:08 IST

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